check out my sweet new dice

Some revile, some revere, others fear. RPGs tend to put dice front and center. Some games even name themselves after the dice they use or even that they don’t use dice! When I sat down to flesh out my own game I had one goal for my dice, “FUN”. But in pursuit of this goal I learned there are more to dice then just numbers, dice have feelings too.

Take a look at this chart to see the mechanics of dice rolling in Seed rpg.

It’s a D6 dice pool system, your character’s dice scores determine how many dice you roll (2-9 usually). Results of 1, 2 are failure ,3-6 succeed and 5-6 add a new die to your roll. Success is used to choose one of the action’s effects. More success gives you more choice. Here are the hard goals I had that led to this mechanic

  1. possible to roll 0
  2. possible to roll infinity
  3. high degree of stable returns

These goals are all about the psychology of rolling dice and a few hard facts of game design. I’m going to say it right now, NO ONE WILL EVER ROLL INFINITY. But it’s possible and that’s all you need to know when you pick up the dice. No matter how hard the odds are against you it is possible to get what you need, you are never directed to roll uselessly. As for rolling zero, I wanted there to be tension even when the odds were heavily in your favor. Again you are never directed to roll uselessly. It’s always possible for everything to go wrong. Stable returns are very satisfying in a game where player investment is heavy. That sums up the theory, lets talk about the practice.

Failure is quick, success is euphoric, everything else is tense as a razors edge. When your dice all come up ones and twos it’s a tragedy sped up to where it’s almost humorous, after such an awful roll you are left telling everyone what went so wrong, this kind of storytelling can actually be easier to make interesting then success. Getting the opposite of major failure is so rare that when it happens you revel in the chance to take up another handful of dice earned from the fives and sixes and add it to your roll, this action of adding dice to a roll extends an awesome moment, Savor that flavor! After so much rolling players generally feel confident enough to tell a story about how their character just did something awesome. What about the rest of the time when your rolls are simply average? That’s the best thing about this mechanic. if you roll 5 dice and get 4 failures but one five or six there is still a chance you can succeed, as you roll extra rounds of dice the tension builds. maybe you will roll well enough to get the best possible effect from a terrible initial roll? It’s always fun to find out!

Lets talk more about the “average” roll. There are a crazy number of ways to roll any particular number. Meaning even if the results are extremely consistent your likely rolling a different series of die to reach that same number. This goes a long way to making steady dice rolls exciting, you never really notice how consistent and boring your dice really are.

So next time you roll some dice, remember it’s not about the numbers, your dice have feelings too.

Eat that cake,

-Tyler

For you statisticians or damn liars out there check out the “anydice” numbers for this dice mechanic http://anydice.com/program/21b this roll assumes you start with rolling six dice. If you want it to roll more or less change the very first number in the equation 6d(1d{0,0,1,1,100,100}e3h)c{0=0,1=1,100=1,101=2,200=2,201=3,300=3,301=3,400=4}

“Anydice” is awesome and Jasper Flick was not only blessed with an awesome name but is also my hero for figuring out that math. Also what happened, this was supposed to be a SHORT quick article about how dice are fun…

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One response to “check out my sweet new dice

  1. Pingback: fudge dice that are not | "Fruit"

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